King Abdullah and US Secretary of State John Kerry wait for a meeting at the King's private residence Friday, June 27, 2014 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. (AP Photo/Brendan Smialowski, Pool)
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Saudi King Abdullah pledged in talks with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to use his influence to encourage Sunni Muslims to join a new, more inclusive Iraqi government to better combat an Islamist insurgency, a senior U.S. official said Saturday.After a week of frenetic diplomacy by Kerry tackling the threat of Iraq's disintegration, Abdullah's assurance marked a significant shift from Riyadh's insistence on the removal of Iraqi Prime Minister Nour al-Maliki, a Shiite Muslim. The U.S. official said the Saudi monarch voiced deep concern to Kerry about the Islamic State in Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) insurgents who have overrun much of northern Iraq and its border with Syria and thrust southward, approaching the Saudi frontier. Maliki, in talks with Kerry in Baghdad this week, said he would meet a July 1 deadline to form a new government that was representative of Iraq and included Sunnis and Kurds.The senior State Department official was cautious about whether the new government would be formed by then.
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